Earlier this week I was shopping at noontime at the local Whole Foods store in Ann Arbor. Yes, I was in a rush, but never mind. As usual, I always make time to converse with the associates helping me shop. I always learn something new when we engage in mutual self discovery.
As I unloaded my purchases, the associate asked me how my day was going and I responded. Then, I asked him about how his own day was going.
“Well, I guess it’s going OK,” he replied, looking directly at me. “Just OK?” I asked, “Why is that?”
He went on to tell me that he just completed an interview with store management. He wanted to develop himself professionally and applied for a more senior position at that store.
“How did the interview go?” I asked. His response initially reflected a bit of uncertainty: “I think it went OK. I was myself. That’s all I can be,” was his response. Then he smiled, in a moment of professional self discovery. His uncertainty lifted and I smiled back.
You know, sometimes moments of professional self discovery become an epiphany.
As I congratulated him on his successful interview, I told him about “what I do.”
“You would be surprised at how many leaders, sales people, hiring candidates and technical teams are afraid to be ‘themselves’ when working with clients,” I told him. “Instead, these talented professionals guess at what the decision maker wants to hear. Then, they respond based on that mis-assumption.”
“At the end of the day,” the man continued, “I can only be true to myself and be who I am.” Now that insight is a great dose of grocery store karma, folks.
“And when we are true to ourselves,” I responded, “we never have to remember what we tell people, because we are consistent, transparent and honest. That’s good way to be just who we are, all the time.”
I wished him good luck on his potential career move. After all, he risked being who he was instead of trying to guess about who and what he thought the decision maker wanted.
Now consider the professional processes we use when working with decision makers.
Are we telling them what they truly need to know? On the other hand, do we merely repeat scripted conversations reflecting messaging which our management wants customers to hear?
After a lengthy project coaching college graduates on career development, I created a series of blog posts on the importance of a developing a professional interview roadmap. As a bonus, read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 here.
However, these roadmaps are applicable to everyone who wants to liberate themselves from status quo mindset. Regardless of age, level of education, experience or professional aspirations, developing these roadmaps are important.
To begin with, these professional self discovery coaching programs catalyze individuals and teams to move outside of their professional comfort levels. In addition, individuals become “unstuck” from toxic habits which hold them back from moving forward professionally.
Ponder how professional self discovery makes us all more honest and mindful when working with colleagues and serving our customers’ best interests. Consider how developing these qualities differentiates us from the “rest” of the folks who spin and spiel multiple versions of themselves, depending on who is listening.
Ultimately, professional self discovery drives customer retention. Think about it.
Guess what I am going to do the next time I’m at Whole Foods? Of course! I will engage in a bit more professional self discovery with associates. The quality of customer service creates professional epiphanies on both sides of the counter. You would be surprised at how many associates have started associate degrees as a result of mutual professional epiphanies. 😉
And let’s face it. I do business with people who are trustworthy, consistent, insightful and, well, are comfortable being “themselves.” Don’t you?
Babette Ten Haken is a STEM-trained catalyst, corporate strategist, storyteller and facilitator. Her focus? How collaboration revolutionizes and humanizes the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) value chain. The results? Increased customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention.
Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ programs draw from her background as a scientist, sales professional, enterprise-level facilitator, Six Sigma Green Belt and certified DFSS Voice of the Customer practitioner. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Do you know the Top 5 Negative Customer Retention Scenarios? Find out here.